The Rat Race We All Are Stuck In
You’re taking hours to write an essay that your friend only took two hours to complete. You keep thinking to yourself: ‘Why. Am. I. Like. This?’ Sound familiar? If you haven’t felt pressured at least once to keep up with those around you in school, university or work, I look up to you. More than someone telling us that we need to reach as far as ‘this person did’, we often end up thinking about it ourselves, hence, the unnecessary pressure is placed. You hear that a classmate of yours completed their project in one day. Now you have to scramble and finish it off too, exactly ‘in one day’, or else you’re not capable enough and you might as well trash your degree. Overthinkers, do you get me?
Don’t get me wrong, giving yourself a pep talk that will motivate you to work harder is essential. However, overburdening yourself with pressure to be just like someone else, when you are a completely different human being, isn’t right. This is the rat race we all are stuck in. The trigger is pulled and off we all go, running next to each other, in our separate lanes. The problem begins when we start focusing on someone else’s path when we’re supposed to just look ahead on ours. The road ahead isn’t empty, there are poles coming ahead that we need to dodge! Life is filled with poles and poking your nose in someone else’s life and comparing it to yours is definitely going to leave you with a painfully bruised face.
You’re continuing your run when your friend beside you yells that she got a job. And you turn. Why just why. Bad idea. A pole of ‘loss of self-confidence’ hits you because you begin to think you’re not good enough to get a job. And one more rejection letter will be the end of you. Let’s rewind a bit. What if we heard the good news, we were happy for them and continued looking ahead in our lane. Maybe you wouldn’t have a black eye after hitting a pole, now would you?
What we tend to forget is hitting these poles brings you down and slows your process of growth. I’m not talking about getting left behind in the race; I’m talking about doubting your capabilities, your self-confidence dropping, the pressure on your head, the general dullness — these poles will just make you lose more hope and will make you more unhappy with your life and unsatisfied with yourself.
You can guess what happens next. You sit down and sulk. Now, not only have you put your journey of growth on a pause but you also feel terrible about not being like ‘someone else’. This ‘rat race’ we all are in — we are stuck in it because we take it as a race when it was never a race, to begin with! You can’t have a race if you’re not competing with anyone. We aren’t competing with anyone but ourselves. We should strive to do better not because of what so and so is doing, but because we want to OURSELVES.
We all are on our own journey, going through life at our own pace. I’ll say it again. I’ll say it a thousand times if I have to. I’ll say it with a microphone for the people at the back who constantly doubt themselves and place unneeded expectations on their heads based on other people’s lives. Yes, I’m speaking to all of you. It’s time we look at our own lanes solely, fall, learn from our mistakes, get up and continue our run towards becoming the best versions of ourselves. We can take a quick peek at other people’s lanes if it motivates us in a healthy manner to work hard if we’re being lazy, but that’s a whole other story.
Working while quarantined at home during the COVID-19 pandemic is different for everyone. Some people can get their work done regardless of the environment change, while it can be challenging for others to get anything done. For those struggling — they shouldn’t feel pressured to get everything completed at once all because their friends are getting it done faster. Take a break if you need to. Your mental and physical health is way more important. Work at your own pace.
There is no rush to be at the top. Ultimately, we all will be winners at the end of our own journey of development, but at different times and THAT IS OKAY. Remember, it’s not a race. No matter what, don’t let the Internet, social media, people and their achievements make you feel left behind and feel obligated to reach where they have reached or have what they have. We all are writing our own story of life at our own pace. So next time you feel anxious, left behind, feel the need to rush into things to be equal to ‘someone else’, maybe come back and read this article and maybe you’ll be reminded once again — this life story is not theirs to write, it’s yours and you will write it accordingly.